Florida’s summer brings nice weather — and the dreaded hurricane season. For those accustomed to tropical weather, hurricane talk is the norm. But for students from places outside of Florida, hurricane preparedness may be unknown territory. However, for NSU officials, it is like traveling on calm waters.
Executive Director of University Relations David Dawson explained that the university monitors storms very carefully.
“The first order of business is the safety of our students,” he said.
Dawson said that in the past, students who live on campus have flown home or gone to a friend’s house.
“If they stay here, we’ll protect them,” he said. “Protecting students is part of our service. We protect this campus. It’s an open and pretty campus and very safe but not by accident.”
Rodrigue Colas, assistant director for housing, said that for hurricanes category three and below, the office staff first updates students and meets with the Don Taft University Center Arena staff to set aside an area for students to stay. The housing staff stays with students during the storm. They provide mattresses and work with dining services to provide meals.
However, students are responsible for protecting their rooms from damage.
For stronger hurricanes, there is a designated shelter, Falcon Cove Middle School. NSU’s staff ensures there is space and transportation to the shelter for the students. Staff members also make sure they know exactly which students went to the shelter and which students went home.
“We have a plan we’ve had for years,” Colas said. “We have resident assistants and professional staff that students can contact. We’ve gone through hurricanes before. We make sure [students] are safe, which is our number one priority.”
The threat of a hurricane may also cause the university to close. In deciding whether or not to close the campus, NSU officials speak with neighboring colleges and the public school system. They also stay up to date with the county’s emergency structure and public transportation system, said Dawson.
Then, they send campus-wide emails, post hurricane icons on NSU’s home page, update messages on NSU’s general phone line and distribute information on NSU’s emergency line, 800-256-5065, said Dawson. The chancellor and the president make the final decision about closing the university.
NSU officials are aware of a storm’s effect and recognizes that there are serious academic consequences to losing school days.
Dawson said, “We balance academics but never compromise safety.”
In the event of a black-out due to a hurricane, NSU is prepared. The campus is self-sufficient and has trailers with generators and locations with emergency power.
“We can power ourselves,” Dawson said. “We have portable generators plus regular ones.”
Hurricane season spans from June 1 to Nov. 30.